30 May 2012

A crappy way to treat a neighbourhood

May 30, 2012 CityCaucus.com
A crappy way to treat a neighbourhood
Riverfront Park, seen from Romer's Burger Bar

A former park commissioner watches a waterfront park lose its lustre

The Fraserlands neighbourhood in southeast Vancouver is truly a hidden gem. Riverfront pathways meander along the Fraser and awesome bike paths make access to the outdoors very easy. The neighbourliness is something I have not experienced anywhere else in the city. This camaraderie might be due to the accessibility of outdoor activities, so that one tends to see more of their neighbours.

When I moved here the City, through the Park Board, had a dedicated gardener for Riverfront Park—a green space extending along the Fraser from the foot of Victoria Dr. all the way to Kerr St. The paths, verges, lawns and fields were well maintained and the gardens bloomed throughout the summer with a riot of colour. Picnickers and sports enthusiasts flocked here year round. Along the bike path, which runs the length of the railroad tracks, the grass was trimmed and the shrubs were pruned regularly – 3 to 4 times per season – making this a model neighbourhood.

This all changed with the election of a Vision Vancouver majority to both City Hall and the Park Board. Since Vision was elected in 2008 they have cut the parks maintenance budget every year. In my neighbourhood this has meant that the dedicated gardener has vanished, the gardens are neglected and the lawns and fields have been cut fewer times. The picnic area is often covered in litter and the garbage cans overflow. Along the boulevards and verges the grass and shrubs have not been maintained at all. This has resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of litter and even household garbage piling up.

When the City no longer takes pride in its property, people tend to disrespect it as well. Several times I have seen individuals urinating on the verges and in the park, and this morning I saw someone defecating along the bike path—simply because he thought he could not be seen hidden by the uncut grass. A few years ago the Park Board talked about closing washrooms—seems some people thought they had.

I called 3-1-1 (thanks Sam!) and was told a Streets crew would come out within the next week to ‘take a look’, but I really don’t think it should take someone defecating in front of my home to get the city to clean up its land. Some of my neighbours are so disgusted by the lack of maintenance that they have started guerrilla gardens—a move I applaud. A motion I brought to the Board last term allows them to do this, but unless they are granted approval from the City they run the risk of losing their flower beds.

I have always encouraged people to help keep their neighbourhoods clean. I have participated in neighbourhood and beach clean-ups and I have supported neighbourhood gardens. However, if the City doesn’t do its part in keeping neighbourhoods clean, trim, and safe, neighbourhoods will continue to deteriorate. Then citizens will become increasingly alienated from each other and our gorgeous city will lose its charm and beauty. It’s time the city made neighbourhoods a priority. We pay taxes for a safe, clean and beautiful city, let’s spend them to keep Vancouver a livable city.

published 30 may 2012 @ www.citycaucus.com

07 May 2012

World Migratory Bird Day celebrations in Vancouver

from the Park Board:
Vancouver—with some of Canada’s most important bird habitat—is the perfect place to lead the country in celebrating World Migratory Bird Day.
To recognize the importance of birds to a healthy ecosystem, a series of events will be held across the city on May 12.
9:30 am Proclamation
Vancouver Park Board Chair Constance Barnes will make a proclamation of World Migratory Bird Day in Vancouver, and will be joined by Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and ornithologist and author Dr. Rob Butler, who will talk about the significance of birds in our city, at the heron colony in Stanley Park, 2099 Beach Avenue
10 am    Bird Walks Around Town
Bird experts will lead bird walks in five different Vancouver parks
  • Stanley Park (leave Heron colony at 10 am; three walks, one in Punjabi)
  • Everett Crowley Park (meet in Kerr Street parking lot at 9:45 am)
  • The Sanctuary at Hastings Park (meet on the N.E. corner of Hastings and Renfrew streets at 9:45 am)
  • Jericho Park (meet in east side parking lot at 9:45 am)
  • Queen Elizabeth Park (meet in front of Bloedel Conservatory at 9:45 am; two walks, one in Mandarin)
1 – 4 pm         Open Bird House
Exhibits and activities for all ages in the Alice MacKay Room of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia Street
2 pm             Feature Presentation
Bird biologist Russell Cannings in the Alice MacKay Room of the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia Street
There is also a birding display at Tourism Vancouver’s downtown Visitor Centre, 200 Burrard Street through to May 31 (daily 8:30 am – 6 pm).
English Bay and Burrard Inlet are designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) of Canada. The IBA program is coordinated by BirdLife International and aims to identify conserve and monitor essential bird habitats around the world. Numerous waterbirds use the protected waters of Burrard Inlet for feeding. Waterfowl numbers peak in midwinter here, while species diversity of waterbirds peaks in October.
World Migratory Bird Day was initiated in 2006 and is a global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats. On the second weekend each May, people around the world take action and organise public events such as bird festivals, education programmes and bird watching excursions to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day.
Media enquiries: Daria Wojnarski, Communications Coordinator, at (t) 604-257-8440 or (c) 604-561-6925